Pick of the Brown Bag
Alien Coventry is about to be released in theaters. This special post is a warning. Alien Coventry is really Prometheus 2.
The filmmakers changed the name. Prometheus was a wretched movie. One of the worst ever made. I mean ask me to pick which is a more soul-crushing, mind-numbing film, Batman Forever or Prometheus, and the answer will change on a daily basis.
Don't think about them.
For the longest time, I judged Batman Forever to be the worst film ever made. It's very difficult to screw up Batman, yet Joel Schumacher and Akiva Goldsman managed it.
Soon, very soon, Donald Trump will be in prison.
Let me give you a level by which to judge. Sucker Punch is a really bad movie, a cynical one as well. It's designed to take advantage of geek culture and patronize nerds of all ilk. However, it's a forgettable film. It takes awhile, about a year, but Sucker Punch fades.
Mike Pence may also be in trouble.
Batman Forever does not. I remember everything about that garbage heap. I didn't think another film would stick like Batman Forever. Along came Prometheus, and like Batman Forever, it never fully left my consciousness. Prometheus is an insulting scar. So, before you make a mistake and choose to see Alien Coventry over say a rewatch of the stellar Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 these are some of the reasons why Prometheus makes such an indelible impression. "10 Reasons" is an older review that I posted to my Facebook page, but when I heard that Prometheus did the unthinkable and spawned a sequel, I preserved it. Waited for the moment, to sound the bell for a new audience.
Top Ten Reasons Why "The Impossible Planet" and "Satan's Pit" are Superior to Prometheus
"The Impossible Planet" and "Satan's Pit" are two episodes of Doctor Who that form a Doctor Who story starring David Tennant as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.
The story bears a few superficial similarities to Prometheus but exceeds at every level. The Doctor Who tale centers on a future crew of Sanctuary Base 6 sponsored by the Torchwood Archive with a complement that's somewhat equivalent to that of Prometheus: African-American Captain, various scientists, a weapons officer, slave race, etc. Most important at the center of IMP and SP lies a giant alien professing Biblical allegory. Here are the top ten reasons why IMP and SP are both better than Prometheus.
First and foremost, "Satan's Pit" and "Impossible Planet" look like a million bucks. Doctor Who was infamous for shoddy effects, but even in its darkest days, the producers of Doctor Who used their budgets to the fullest. Doctor Who's budget now is astronomical when compared to what it was back in say the seventies, but it's still a pittance compared to that of a big budget movie.
What exactly did Prometheus spend its money on? The starship set that looks like a cramped Star Trek shuttle bridge?
The unconvincing 3-D technology? The meager alien designs? The horrible make-up job to turn Guy Pearce into an old man?
It looks like a kindergartner papier mached his head.
I watched an episode of Mission: Impossible that believably turned Leonard Nimoy into an old man.
How can 1970s make-up technology be better than modern technique?
Where did the money go? I suspect Prometheus was actually a money-laundering project for Black Ops.
Prometheus cannot stand on its own two feet. It alludes to Doctor Who, thrice. In addition to flaunting a scene where the biologist refers to an ugly blind worm-thing as "beautiful," a Doctor Who staple first worded in "Werewolf," Prometheus' main characters borrow the names of companions.
Dr. Elizabeth Shaw was the third Doctor's companion.
Dr. Grace Holloway was the eighth Doctor's plus one. Trouble is if those two women were in Prometheus it would have been a lot smarter. Despite harboring Noomi Rapace, the first Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus is the movie equivalent of a congenital idiot.
The crew members in "Impossible Planet" and "Satan's Pit" are all likable, fine representatives of humanity. They are explorers from the Great and Bountiful Human Empire investigating a cosmic mystery.
They are also unaware of the reason why the Ood are so subservient; this will be addressed in future episodes of Doctor Who. The crew members of The Prometheus are self-serving douches. Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is a religious zealot. Her boyfriend, Dr. Holloway is a smug, self-righteous bastard. Charlize Theron's Vickers is an icy bitch with King Lear syndrome. David the android is an amoral Pinnochio. None of them are explorers, not even the geologist and biologist. Shaw and Holloway want to prove they are right. Theron wants to make a profit, how isn't clearly explained, and prove her father wrong. David simply wants to slavishly serve his master. And the old man? He wants the alien's cure for what ails him. Not that there's any proof they have what he wants. Of course, he could be suffering from dementia.
Whereas Captain Zachary Cross Flane in IMP and SP must make life and death decisions throughout the two episodes. In some instances end the lives of crew members, to preserve the rest and grant a merciful death, the Captain of The Prometheus is nondescript. He could have been replaced by the Christmas tree he sets up, mind you Charlize Theron would have had an awful time pulling out pine needles from the hook up. While it is he who decides to ram his ship into the departing genetic bomb that's about to be unleashed on earth, the choice lacks resonance because this Captain is as thin as paper. He just represents Captainhood, a sort of last glimmer of Star Trek in Prometheus' dismal, incorporated universe.
The sex scene between Shaw and Holloway lacks impact. It's there to predictably impregnate Shaw with an alien calamari, an effect purchased at the local Rite-Aid I'll wager. Frankly, because we don't care about these characters, we don't care if they have sex or not. The moments in which the Doctor and Rose express a chaste love for each other generate more tension.
When it appears the time travelers are stranded, Rose suggests half-jokingly that they buy a house together, and the kiss Rose plants on the Doctor's helmet, conveys far more gravitas than the entirety of the vanilla sexuality in Prometheus.
As does the Doctor's final words to Rose as he's about to embark into the pit:
"If they get back in contact…If you talk to Rose…Tell her. Just tell her…Oh, she knows."
Rose threatens Captain Cross Flane with a bolt-gun when she finds that he anesthetized her to save her from the crumbling planet:
"Take me back!"
"Would you though? Would you really? Is that what your Doctor would have wanted?"
It's not of course, and Rose collapses in tears.
The science of Prometheus is abysmal. The DNA of the humans and aliens matches, which is astonishing given that the aliens are gigantic hairless albinos with overtly different skeletal structures.
Apparently, the writers of this dreck don't realize that DNA encodes for phenotype (appearance) as well as genotype. In other words, if we had identical DNA to chimpanzees, we would look like chimpanzees, or they would look like us. Chimps are our cousins, not our clones. We share certain genes with our cousins. We also share certain genes with chickens. That's evolution in a nutshell. Most of are genes have been recapitulated throughout time, and we can trace our mammalian ancestors to the same ancestors of modern reptiles. Beyond that to the common ancestor of land dwellers and amphibians.
Medical science appears to have advanced in Prometheus, but with dumb exceptions. When Shaw discovers her unintended pregnancy she enters a medical pod that lasers her open but staples her closed.
I mean if you're going with that advanced technology, why not laser her close? Don't say that it's impossible. That whole sequence from our technological context is impossible. The inadequacies of following through simply excuse the miasma of artificial drama, giving Shaw an infrequent kick to the gut, when needed to slow her down on her run.
At one point, the crew reanimate a head that should have been mummified, it's brain completely desiccated and inoperable.
As anyone who has ever watched Re-animator can tell you, brain necrosis occurs within less than five minutes. That's the time limit, unless of course you enter Brain That Wouldn't Die territory and use "magic" neck juice.
Or perhaps, tana leaves.
The science in IMP and SP on the other hand is actually credible. The episodes offer to the viewer a gravity funnel passage to leave the planet and escape the pull of a black hole. While the distance explains the title of IMP and the idea that this is a natural occurring phenomena is erroneous, the principle is sound. The Doctor however discovers that in actuality the cosmic conundrum is a trap set by advanced aliens to kill a giant alien claiming to be Satan. The alien in Doctor Who furthermore looks like a fully realized Demon from a big budget horror thriller.
Far cry from the pale, bald goofy seven footers in Prometheus. Again, I must ask. Where did the money go for this production? The wardens of the trap in IMP and SP already imprisoned the alien and divided its mind and body. Its body lies below. Its mind, already freed possesses a crew member as well as the bizarre looking Ood.
At one point in IMP and SP, the being claims to be the source for all the demons of legend in the universe, but he makes a mistake when he claims to exist before the universe. The Doctor knows that this boast truly is impossible. The universe of Doctor Who is complex, but no life existed before the universe. Doctor Who flatly denies the Biblical allegory--that the being is the Christian satan--instead characterizing the would-be evil deity as a giant, powerful flim-flam man. The thing simply uses the legends of the universe for its own purposes, and clearly the thing cannot be a deity, at least a Christian one, since the Doctor and Rose kill it.
Shaw on the other hand learns nothing from her experience on the unnamed planet. It seems that one of her brain cells starts to flare and recognizes the giant aliens as not designers but just aliens, but by the end of the movie, she returns to her pig-headed original premise. Not only did the aliens create humans, they decided to destroy them. Only, they changed their minds. Shaw now embarks to seek the homeworld of these giant bastards to find out why our creators decided to change their minds. Idiot!
Prometheus is a proponent for intelligent design. It throws out all the evidence from Darwin's Descent of Man and all the evolutionary theory that continuously supports Darwin's findings. Its argument is that aliens created us in their own image, patently untrue given reason number five.
The crew in Doctor Who have not assumed that aliens created the conditions of "The Impossible Planet." They have no assumptions. Like true scientists would, they observe and investigate. It takes them years to work out what the Doctor works out in seconds, and nobody, not a single person, thinks what appears to be a freakish natural phenomena is in fact a prison for a massive cosmic criminal. In other words, the crew of Sanctuary Base 6 in Doctor Who use the scientific method.
The "research" that Shaw and Holloway conduct lead them to a conclusion no rational scientist would make. Cave paintings depicting visitation by saucer like craft only would at a stretch mean that aliens visited humans. It doesn't vault to the argument that aliens made us. Even if aliens provided co-ordinates to their home planet, an invitation to a trap if you ask me, it still wouldn't prove didley and/or squat.
Shaw and Holloway haven't even circumstantial proof, yet somehow they convinced a nuttier corporation to invest in finding the planet of origin. Which brings up another question. How do Shaw and Holloway know that the same aliens visited different humans? Why couldn't different aliens with similar technologies, perhaps the only technology that works, visited humans? For example, Klingons and Romulans both use Romulan cloaking devices. Romulans, Klingons and humans all use laser beams to varying degrees. That technology became universal. Daleks fly in saucers. So do the non-Dalek aliens in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Size certainly doesn't matter.
Let's do something crazy. Let's not assume aliens actually visited humans. After observing Shaw's similar cave paintings, what other more rational conclusion might we consider? Suppose one artist or one group of artists imagined sky beings. Might not these artists travel to other lands? Might not their art be copied by other students? Might not these students have traveled? "Kilroy was Here." I mean, what form of logic do Shaw and Holloway function on? What were their discarded "theories?" That Goliath lived after David's slingshot pellet hit and sired children?
"No, no. That would be silly."
"You're right. The Bible indicates Goliath's death."
"Hey, wait a minute! Aliens! Aliens are our fathers!"
"You're right! Let's go have sex!"
"But not like hot monkeys."
"Absolutely not. They're not related to us."
True biologists often spend months if not years living close to their subjects of study in order to preserve the sanctity of the blindness of the experiment. In the future of Prometheus, biologists have abandoned such time-consuming tactics and when encountering new lifeforms, reach out with their hands and say things like, "Come on, beautiful."
Predictably, the creatures tend to take advantage of the cooer's stupidity by promptly wrapping around the cretin's arm and squeezing for all its worth. This precludes the follow-up future biology technique of "Puss, puss, puss, puss. Psssss. Psssss. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty."
I'm sure there's a helluva lot more wrong with Prometheus, but the death of the biologist foreshadows my final complaint. The movie is so damn predictable. You know who will live and who will die. IMP and SP live up to Joe Bob Briggs' insight regarding the commonalities of great horror movies. "Anybody can die at any time." Nobody is spared in Doctor Who because of looks, cuteness or star power.
Your lives are at risk!
In fact, even the Doctor can die, and has done so, up to the point of IMP and SP, ten times. The Doctor possesses the ability to regenerate. When near death, he undergoes complete metamorphosis. He is reborn as a physically new man with a new temperament that influences his core personality. Of course in reality, it's the secret of the television show's success. Beginning in 1963, Doctor Who is the longest, continually running television show starring the same character. With regeneration, different actors with different physical features can portray the same man, and they don't have to approach the role the same way.
In IMP and SP, the creature murders Scooti Manista the cute cohort of Ida Scott. The Captain is forced to kill the amiable, professional security officer. The entire complement of Ood must be destroyed.
When you think somebody will die, they don't. As Ida Scott appears to breathe her last on the surface above the Pit, a moving scene, you truly believe that this alien monster has claimed another, but Doctor Who is at heart optimistic. Throughout its history, perfectly nice people have been killed by evil forces. The Doctor's companions have died, but ultimately, the theme of Doctor Who is that kindness and altruism in the end will prevail. Humanity tames its baser instincts, and humans will become an indomitable force for good until the end of time. Of course, they have to survive their comparative weakness in order to get there. That's where the Doctor steps in, and when faced with periods in which time is flexible, he doesn't hesitate. Ida Scott recuperates aboard the Doctor's time machine, The TARDIS, which he recovers as he runs from the damage he did to the creature:
For these reasons "The Impossible Planet" and "Satan's Pit" are superior to the lackluster Prometheus. The more I talk about this film, the more I hate it.